Burt Myers has been driving modifieds for a long, long time.
And he has been rather successful doing it.
The Walnut Cove, North Carolina, driver is a eight-time modified champion at Bowman Gray Stadium — one of the toughest, and smallest, Whelen All-American Series tracks in the United States.
On top of that, Myers is a former two-time champion of the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour and he put together 19 career wins across 12 years in that division, where he goes down as the final champion in history.
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Now, since the unification of the Whelen Modified Tour, Myers finds himself sprinkling in select events with the series, while also running full-time at Bowman Gray, where is chasing yet another championship this season.
“I’m usually looking for a race somewhere all the time, and even though I do miss the Southern Tour, on the other hand, it’s really been neat to branch out and run some races that I may not have ever got the chance to run,” Myers said. “It’s really been a neat experience.”
Last week, Myers took to the quarter-mile Riverhead Raceway in New York, scoring a 14th place finish in Whelen Modified Tour action. After 151 career Whelen Modified starts with NASCAR (between the Southern and unified tour), Myers found himself at the Long Island oval — one of the most historic in Northeast racing — for the very first time.
Contrary to some belief, it’s different than his weekly home, he says.
“It was actually nothing like Bowman Gray,” Myers said. “I think the reason people try to compare the two is because of the close quarters with the contact, but the way the track is layed out, and the way you race it, they are nothing alike. The ironic part is, I don’t even think I was that wild. One of the fans told me, “You may race at the Madhouse, but this is the Wildhouse.” But I thought it was relatively calm.”
In four starts this season, Myers has a best finish of 13th, but is inching closer to capturing a top 10 finish. He has been driving the No. 1 Citrusafe/Dunleavy Truck and Trailer Repair Chevrolet for Eddie Harvey, a former multiple-time champion on the Southern Modified Tour as a car owner.
Myers hasn’t raced at some of the New England tracks as much as some of the regulars in his career, either. Locals from the SK Modified division in Connecticut often compete weekly at a track like Stafford Motor Speedway and Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, giving them crucial track time when they enter the Whelen Modified Tour events. In his career, Myers has just five career starts at Thompson, while Chase Dowling, a 20-year-old who is second in the championship standings right now, already has 14.
“Sure, we are at a little bit of a disadvantage because of it,” Myers said of the lack of track time compared to some others. “But, Eddie has the equipment that can win races, and I know that I have the ability to do it, it’s just a matter of putting the package together and making it work. Some of these other guys, these are their home tracks. But, if I didn’t think we could win, I wouldn’t even go (to the races).”
Even though the finishes haven’t really been on his side quite yet this season, Myers is looking ahead with a clear mindset: chase a victory.
“We’re having a blast, we were very frustrated with our performance at Riverhead, but we still had a blast. To go up there and hangout, race, and be in the atmosphere and the environment with the fans, the whole package is just a really neat experience to be part of.”
He’s been racing for over two decades, but the glory of capturing a checkered flag, and a championship trophy, never goes away. He won his first Bowman Gray title in 1999, and won his second in a row last season.
“In my current situation, I have Bowman Gray, and the opportunity that just came up with Eddie,” Myers said. “I have been able to run at different tracks, with some people I haven’t raced with before. I’m having a blast.”